*** NOTE ***
By Anna Sarkissian
Montreal might be known for bagels, smoked meat, and that eponymous steak spice. Exchange student Selina Oh Siew Ling says fungus is another local specialty.
For her doctoral research into filamentous fungus, Concordia is the place to be.
“This stage of my project requires specialization, which is why I came here,” she says.
Oh met Concordia biology professor Reginald Storms when he conducted a workshop at her university in Malaysia. They discussed research attachment possibilities and he recommended that she apply for an exchange program.
Oh is one of 14 exchange students selected to come to Concordia this year by the Canadian Bureau for International Education under the Canadian Commonwealth Exchange Program and the Program for Emerging Leaders in the Americas (ELAP).
Students are awarded grants of up to $10 000 to spend four to six months studying or performing research at a Canadian partner of their home universities. Over the coming months, students from Cuba, India, Brazil, Pakistan and Uganda will be landing in Montreal.
In Storms’ lab in the Richard J. Renaud Science Complex, Oh is engineering the filamentous fungus, Aspergillus oryzae, so that it can efficiently produce proteins for use in both basic research and various commercial applications.
Upon arrival, she stayed with Storms and his wife. “They treated me so nicely,” she says. She has since settled into an apartment near Lucien-L'Allier metro and is eager to get to know her surroundings. She has been up to Tremblant and hopes to visit Niagara Falls before heading home in December.
Though her father worries about how she’ll cope with Montreal’s weather, her family is very supportive. “Malaysia it’s hot and humid all year round. This morning, it was 5 degrees here, which is the coldest I’ve ever felt,” she says.
“I’m learning to explore the city on my own. I’ve become very independent.”
For more, see the websites for the Canadian Commonwealth Scholarship Program or Program for Emerging Leaders in the Americas. To find out more about exchange programs, contact Concordia International.